The Delhi Assembly Speaker took on the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday for its order banning diesel vehicles older than 10 years in the National Capital Region.
“Everyone is for the public. NGT is also for the public, just like ministers and me. We are here to serve the people and not rule them on our whims. While the whole world may be looking at pollution and taking steps, we in India have to work according to the prevailing conditions. If we remove trucks, transporters will increase the rates of goods, which will be shifted on to the consumers. NGT should have acted when these buses and trucks and cars were being added to city roads. All of us are here to serve the public,” Speaker Ram Niwas Goel said.
Goel was speaking at an all-party meeting with transporters, which also became the venue of a showdown between the Delhi government and the Delhi police. Delhi’s transport minister Gopal Rai alleged that the Delhi Police was “exploiting” and “looting” transporters.
He added that the Delhi government may not have the power to act against the police, which falls under the Union Home Ministry, but it has every “constitutional right” to act against the offenders.
“Rules are double edged. It can be a facilitator, but for some, it becomes a tool to exploit. In Delhi, the kind of raids and looting that takes place at night… as the night descends, men in uniform attack their prey,” said Rai.
Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Muktesh Chander admitted that while there may be some unscrupulous elements in the traffic police, corruption could be found in any government department.
“We do have checks and balances to fight corruption. The police has a provision for victims of harassment and extortion to video record the incident and submit it to the vigilance department of the police, which looks into it. Moreover, a car dashboard recorder functions as a way to record evidence against such malpractices. If drivers abide by the law and don’t evade the police by overspeeding, if they use the Capital as a corridor and not a destination, thus increasing pollution and causing accidents, they should not hesitate to install such devices in their vehicles,” Chander said.
Rai said, “We are steadfast on waging a strong fight against such practices. We also urge the police to hold a joint meeting to put an end to this chain of looting and harassment.”
Rai also said he would write to the Centre to provide land to build four ‘transport nagars’ on the outskirts of the Capital. He added that he had requested the Central government to construct a peripheral corridor and a number of running toll plazas.